Remy Cointreau will move into the premium single malt scotch whisky market sfter it agreed to buy the Bruichladdich distillery for £58 million.

The French drinks giant has been sitting on a £790 million war chest after selling its champagne business, and its purchase of Bruichladdich is believed to be a record for a distillery.

Remy Cointreau, which owns Remy Martin, Cointreau and Mount Gay, said the deal maintained its strategy of investing in international premium spirits with strong “savoir-faire”.

It will pay the distiller’s 60 investors a total of £48 million for their shares and take on Bruichladdich’s £10 million debt.

The Victorian distillery on the isle of Islay was resurrected from closure in December 2000 after it was bought by a group of private investors led by Mark Reynier.

Reynier said the deal had a “bittersweet” taste.

“Of course I have mixed emotions about the sale, but I couldn’t have picked a better buyer than Rémy,” he said. “This is very positive for Bruichladdich as a brand, as a distillery and as a workforce.

“I don’t think it’s the end of an era because they’ve going to carry on what we’ve been doing. They haven’t bought Bruichladdich to un-Bruichladdich it.

“They’ve bought it for the brand. We’ve got the materials and they’ve got the distribution.”

Jean-Marie Laborde, Chief Executive Officer of Rémy Cointreau said: “The acquisition of Bruichladdich, a renowned Islay single malt with a rich and exciting heritage, is a great opportunity to enrich our high-end portfolio of brands and to confirm our strategy in the spirits luxury segment.

“We expect Bruichladdich to sit proudly alongside our other brands and we look forward to working closely with Bruichladdich’s experienced and passionate management team.”